If Tuscany is on your wish list of places to see, it’s time to start planning! Between special events, new museums and the beauties Tuscany offers year round, fitting everything in requires more time than a vacation offers. To help you out, we’ve scoured the web for the best and coolest things to do in Tuscany from our favorite blogs and newspapers and from our own experience. Keep an eye out for more!
1. See a lunar landscape
Not many people know about the Crete Senese, but this Tuscan gem is one of the strangest places around. Located in the province of Siena, not far from Dievole, the lunar landscapes of the Val d’Orcia are so remarkable it’s hard to capture their beauty in person, let alone in photo form. Antonio Cinotti is a Siena native who loves transmitting the beauty of this area to everyone he can – check out his album on Flickr for inspiration.
2. The new Opera del Duomo museum
Florence’s Opera del Duomo Museum reopened after a major restoration and expansion in late 2015 (it was closed for three years). Frequent visitors say this Florentine gem is the perfect excuse for booking a trip, and here’s why. The museum features a huge room (once a theatre), boasting a full reconstruction of the Duomo’s original façade, with important sculptures dotting the wall. Half a dozen Donatellos, Ghiberti’s original doors, the cantorie and so much more make this museum a must-see spot. Here’s a review from the blog ArtTrav. Check out the incredible virtual tour in the video below.
We know booking a trip to Italy often comes down to one tasty treat: gelato. The icy dessert is available year round, and while you may want more of it in the summer months, winter unveils special flavors (like blood orange) that you just won’t find in August. Sasha Wang, a new expat in Florence, talks about her favorite gelato in Florence on her blog Stai al Borgo – one to watch!
4. See the palio in person
Seeing the palio in Siena, in person, is an absolute once-in-a-lifetime experience. The horse race in Siena’s medieval piazza del Campo runs on July 2 and August 16 every year, as it has for centuries. Each palio is a multi-day celebration for the city and a major display of Sienese devotion and civic pride.
5. Watch the sunset over the vines
Here at Dievole, you can watch the sunset over our dreamlike grape vines every night. Generally speaking, there’s no sunset like those with a glass of wine in hand. Enjoy!
6. Brush a cashmere goat in Tuscany
Near Radda in Chianti (not far from Dievole) you’ll find an unusual project that raises cashmere goats in Tuscany. The Chianti Cashmere Farm’s owner has found that Tuscany is a great place to raise goats bred with Scottish cashmere ones; she partners with local weavers to make artisanal local products from her soft animals’ hair. Read about this great activity on Girl in Florence.
7. Visit the Vie Cave
The Vie Cave (meaning “sunken roads”) are an incredible and complex road network linking an Etruscan necropolis to neighboring towns in the Maremma area. The paths, winding trenches carved into tufa stone, are virtually unchanged since Etruscan times, creating a fantastic fusion of Tuscany’s breathtaking natural landscape and ancient history. Your adventure crosses paths with Sovana, a charming medieval town also carved into stone.
8. Take a dip in ancient waters
Thermal baths are a long-standing Tuscan tradition appreciated by popes and peasants alike. The hot sulfurous waters simultaneously relax and cure their weary visitors. How you choose to bathe is up to you: you’ll find both free outdoor pools as well as elaborate Art Deco five-star spas – we’ve compiled a full list of thermal baths in Tuscany for you to explore.
9. Taste olive oil right off the press
Your palate will never forget the tangy flavor of just-pressed olive oil. Come to Tuscany in early November and you’ll be privy to this experience. In this region, olives are usually pressed from about October 15 to November 15, though their level of ripeness is carefully monitored – all in all, it really depends on the year.
10. See the marble inlay floor of Siena’s Duomo
It happens only once a year for about five weeks: carpets that normally cover the marble inlay floor of Siena’s Cathedral are removed, revealing an incredible stone narrative that took hundreds of years to create. The floors are generally uncovered from August 18 to late October.
11. Check out the region’s open-air art
If you’re really looking for something unlike anything else, head to Tuscany’s most southern zone (about 5 km southeast of Capalbio) to see a wonder straight out of a fairytale. The Giardino dei Tarocchi (Tarot Garden) is a whimsical space housing the works of Niki de Saint Phalle. This Gaudí-esque garden features out-of-this-world creations made of brilliantly colored glass mosaics; it’s the perfect adventure for adults and children alike.
12. Visit abandoned religious sites
The Tuscan countryside is teeming with age-old monasteries, ghost-like structures that rise from the landscape in eerie solitude. Explore sites like the Abbey of San Galgano, remains of a religious complex housing the famed sword in the stone. Or perhaps visit the Sant’Antimo Abbey, close enough to divide your day between religious wanderings and the charming town of Montalcino.
13. Take a historic train through one of the most beautiful places in the world
You’ll feel catapulted back in time boarding this historic steam train in the early morning; grab a seat and set out to explore some of Tuscany’s most fascinating destinations. Set itineraries are available on just a few dates throughout the year – we’ve compiled them here. We love the photos taken by Valentina aka Too Much Tuscany during a recent photo trip on one of Tuscany’s historic steam trains organized by Around Siena.
What else would you add to this list? We hope to see you at Dievole soon – check availability and book your stay here!